About the Author
About Lynn Hall
Lynn is a proud mom of four amazing kids, ages 9, 7, 5 and 3. She lives in New Jersey on a farm with her children and husband. Lynn is a graduate of Dartmouth College and The Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. She has spent 18 years in corporate America as a marketing executive. Lynn has had the good fortune to work for companies, such as Colgate-Palmolive and Johnson & Johnson, that are recognized as leaders in progressive policy creation for working parents.
Her company, The PRIMARY DILEMMA LLC, creates tools to help working mothers (parents) discover professional and parenting satisfaction. These tools can also assist employers in creating workplace vocabulary to support conversations about work and family balance.
Lynn’s PRIMARY DILEMMA ™ MOMENT
I faced my dilemma, head on, when I returned to work after the birth of my first child. I went back to a demanding, full-time job with an hour commute. My husband also had a demanding full-time job with a longer commute, frequent travel and higher earning power. I was about to identify as the primary physical parent. But I did not know it. And I did not consider the implications of this role on my plan for working motherhood.
My daughter was in daycare at my work. When my daughter was sick and could not go to daycare – I missed work. It was challenging for me to meet the travel responsibilities of my job because of the logistics of my daughter. If I was travelling, she could not get to daycare. I could not work late because daycare closed at 6:30pm. Wow! I was feeling like a failure as a mom and a failure at work.
But my epiphany came when I faced a classic working mom dilemma. I had a huge presentation at work. I woke up early to get my daughter ready, to be on time, to “do well”! But my daughter woke up with a fever. Oh no! My husband was away on business. And I had no one to ask for help. I panicked. But I knew that I needed to stay home with my daughter.
When my husband arrived home that night I said “I need your help tomorrow if the baby is sick.” And he said “Look, I can’t share the day to day parenting. My job won’t allow it. You need to be that person. Your work is important, don’t stop working. If we need a nanny, let’s get one. If you need to change your job, do it. I support you. But you need to be the primary parent.”
Wow, the PRIMARY DILEMMA™ had hit me like a ton of bricks! I had to redefine what it meant for me to “do well” as a mom, employee and person.
I wanted to work. But I also wanted to be physically present for my daughter. The realization of my dilemma guided me to re-engineer my plan for working motherhood. Re-engineering my plan meant finding: 1) an employer closer to home, 2) a work environment that supported flexible schedules and 3) a position that demanded less travel. I found all of that. And with a crazy combination of enthusiasm and remorse, I embraced the chance to learn how to be a working mother in an environment that supported it. But it did come with the price of decelerating my career for a period of time. Fortunately, the self-awareness that I had for my dilemma enabled me to stay in the workforce instead of opting out.
I have reinvented myself several times since that first dilemma experience. And I will continue to evolve and transition to manage the changing needs of my family and work. I do not, in any way, feel uniquely qualified to give working mom advice. There are many women far more adept at parenting than me and professionally more successful. But like anything, knowledge comes with practice. Maintaining my career and electing to have four children has enabled me to develop, test and prove some of the methods to my working mother madness. As an employee, colleague and manager – I have personally encountered many of the trials of working motherhood. But most importantly I have drawn knowledge from other remarkable working mothers.
The PRIMARY DILEMMA™ is based on the experiences of more than 100 real working moms. It is a conversation about real challenges and real satisfactions. Come along and you may just hear a little bit of yourself.